5 Things to Know about COVID-19 and Pregnancy
Coronavirus is all anyone can talk about right now, and for good reason. Besides how much it has changed our daily lives, every time we learn something new about COVID-19, it seems to bring up more questions. This is especially true for pregnant women wondering how this new virus might affect them or their babies. While the international medical community doesn’t know everything about this virus, there are steps expectant moms can take to stay safe.
Physicians and researchers continue to observe and collect anecdotal evidence – and in the meantime, hospitals are putting in protections like limiting visitors.
S. Brandon New, MD, an obstetrician with North Florida OB/GYN and Baptist Health, shares his observations on what doctors know about coronavirus, what they don’t know, and what parents and parents-to-be should do to protect themselves and their new additions.
1. Are Pregnant Women More Likely to Catch the Virus, and What Are Their Risks If They Do?
Pregnant women are often categorized as immunocompromised, a population of patients that can get infections more frequently and with greater adverse effects. However, Dr. New said that so far, pregnant women don’t seem to be getting infected with COVID-19 any more frequently than women of similar age and health who aren’t pregnant.
That said, expectant moms and their partners should still take the necessary precautions to avoid exposure.
2. If I Get Coronavirus, Will It Spread to My Baby? What Are the Effects?
Dr. New cited an advisory from the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology (ACOG), which referenced a study of nine COVID-19-positive women who gave birth in China. None of their babies had the virus. It also wasn’t present in the babies’ cord blood or amniotic fluid, or their mothers’ breast milk.
There’s currently no data on risks to unborn and newborn babies from the virus.
3. Should Pregnant Women Take Extra Precautions?
“There is nothing about pregnancy itself that makes a woman more susceptible to being infected, so they should continue to follow the same guidance from CDC as everyone else. Transmission spreads from person to person primarily through close contact with respiratory droplets (such as through coughs and sneezes) that can travel up to six feet.”
4. What Should I Do to Avoid Catching Coronavirus?
Of course, the CDC recommends washing your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds before eating, after going to the bathroom, and after blowing your nose, sneezing or coughing. Also, they say not to touch your face, especially your eyes, nose and mouth.
When it comes to preventing the spread of coronavirus or catching it yourself, Dr. New said to also stick to these simple guidelines:
• Prioritize prevention. “Take prevention very seriously. Any kind of activity out of the home or with others should be limited or avoided completely for now. If you do need to go to the grocery store, you need to be taking the hand hygiene precautions and the six-foot social distancing barrier, and cleaning your surfaces when you get home.”
• Be vigilant. “Monitor for symptoms. I tell patients to check their temperature periodically, especially if they’re feeling ill. Be cognizant of other common symptoms, such as dry cough, shortness of breath and loss of taste or smell .”
• Support your immune system. “Take general health measures to keep your immune system as strong as it can be. Exercise. Stay hydrated. Eat healthy foods with plenty of antioxidants. Optimize your immune system as much as possible.”
• Call your doctor with questions or concerns. “You’re not alone. There are web-based resources all over, but we’re only a call away, and we’d much rather answer your questions than have you worry, or worse, ignore a serious symptom. If you have symptoms and need to be screened, use measures to prevent spread to others before coming in for an appointment.”
5. Should Families Change Their Labor and Delivery Plans?
“Talk with your provider about your birth plan. At Baptist Health, we have policies in place to limit exposure risks during the pandemic, such as limiting the number of people who can be in the room during delivery.
“We believe that the hospital maternity suites are still the safest place to give birth. This environment ensures access to necessary care to help ensure that no complications arise, which can happen even in the healthiest pregnancies.
“At Baptist Health, we want to help keep you and your family informed about COVID-19. We’re coordinating with the health department and following CDC guidelines to ensure the health and safety of our community”